Francis, Connie (1938—)
Francis, Connie (1938—)
Popular American singer of the 1950s and early 1960s who had 25 records in the top 100. Born Concetta Marie Franconero on December 12, 1938, in Newark, New Jersey; only daughter and one of two children of George (a former dockworker and roofing contractor) and Ida (Ferrara) Franconero; attended Bergen Street school and the Arts High School in Newark; graduated from Belleville (New Jersey) High School, 1955; thrice married (thrice divorced); children: (adopted) son, Joey.
"Freddy"/ "Didn't I Love You Enough?"; "(Please) Make Him Jealous"/ "Goody Good-bye"; "Are You Satisfied?"/ "My Treasure"; "My First Real Love"/ "Believe in Me (Credimi)"; "Forgetting"/ "Send for My Baby"; "My Sailor Boy"/ "Everyone Needs Someone"; "I Never Had a Sweetheart"/ "Little Blue Wren"; "No Other One"/ "I Leaned on a Man"; "Faded Orchid"/ "Eighteen"; "The Majesty of Love"/ "You My Darlin' You"; "Who's Sorry Now?"/ "You Were Only Foolin' (While I Was Fallin' in Love)"; "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry"/ "Lock Up Your Heart"; "Heartaches"/ "I Miss You So"; "Stupid Cupid"/ "Carolina Moon"; "Happy Days and Lonely Nights"/ "Fallin'"; "My Happiness"/ "Never Before"; "If I Didn't Care"/ "Toward the End of the Day"; "Lipstick on Your Collar"/ "Frankie"; "You're Gonna Miss Me"/ "God Bless America"; "Mama"/ "Teddy"; "Everybody's Somebody's Fool"/ "Jealous of You (Tango della Gelosia)"; "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own"/ "Malagueña"; "Many Tears Ago"/ "Senza Mamma e Innamorato"; "Where the Boys Are"/ "No One"; "Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart"/ "Someone Else's Boy"; "Atashi-no ("Where the Boys Are"—Japanese)"/ "Swanee" (Limited release); "Together"/ "Too Many Rules"; "(He's My) Dreamboat"/ "Hollywood"; "When the Boy in Your Arms"/ "Baby's First Christmas"; "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You"/ "Drop It Joe"; "A Second Hand Love"/ "Gonna Git That Man"; "Vacation"/ "The Biggest Sin of All"; "I Was Such a Fool"/ "He Thinks I Still Care"; "I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter"/ "Al Di La"; "Follow the Boys"/ "Waiting for Billy"; "If My Pillow Could Talk"/ "You're the Only One Can Hurt Me"; "Drownin' My Sorrows"/ "Mala Femmina"; "Your Other Love"/ "Whatever Happened to Rosemarie?"; "In the Summer of His Years"/ "My Buddy"; "Blue Winter"/ "You Know You Don't Want Me"; "Lookingfor Love"/ "This Is My Happiest Moment"; "Don't Ever Leave Me"/ "We Have Something More"; "Whose Heart Are You Breaking Tonight?"/ "C'mon Jerry"; "For Mama (La Mamma)"/ "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain"; "Wishing It Was You"/ "You're Mine (Ho Bisogno di Vederti)"; "Forget Domani"/ "No One Ever Sends Me Roses"; "Roundabout"/ "Bossa Nova Hand Dance (Deixa Isso P'rá Lá)"; "Jealous Heart"/ "Can I Rely on You?"; "When the Boys Meet the Girls"/ "Exodus"; "Love Is Me, Love Is You"/ "I'd Let You Break My Heart"; "It's a Different World"/ "Empty Chapel"; "A Letter from a Soldier"/ "Somewhere, My Love"; "A Nurse in the U.S. Army Corps" (Promotional); "So Nice (Summer Samba)"/ "All the Love in the World"; "Spanish Nights and You (Noches Españolas)"/ "Games That Lovers Play"; "Another Page"/ "Souvenir D'Italie"; "Time Alone Will Tell (Non Pensare a Me)"/ "Born Free"; "My Heart Cries for You"/ "Someone Took the Sweetness Out of Sweetheart"; "Lonely Again"/ "When You Care a Lot for Someone"; "My World Keeps Slipping Away"/ "Till We're Together Again"; "Why Say Goodbye"/ "Addio Mi Amore"; "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place"/ "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"; "The Welfare Check"/ "I Don't Want to Play House"; "The Wedding Cake"/ "Over the Hill Underground"; "Gone Like the Wind"/ "Am I Blue?"; "Invierno Triste Azul (Blue Winter—Spanish)"/ "Noches Españolas (Spanish Nights)"; "Zingara"/ "Mr. Love."
Where the Boys Are (1960); Follow the Boys (1963); Looking for Love (1964); Where the Boys Meet the Girls (1965).
The undisputed queen of the popular music scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Connie Francis is probably best remembered for "Where the Boys Are," the title song from her 1960 hit movie. Francis, who sold over 88 million records globally, made a smooth transition from teen queen to cabaret singer before a series of highly publicized tragedies in the 1970s and 1980s halted her career.
Born Concetta Marie Franconero on December 12, 1938, in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of George and Ida Ferrara Franconero , Francis made her debut at age four playing "Anchors Aweigh" on a miniature accordion given to her by her father. George Franconero would diligently promote her career. By 11, she was a veteran of a number of juvenile variety programs and, shortly before her 12th birthday, won first place on Arthur Godfrey's TV talent show, singing "Daddy's Little Girl." (It was Godfrey who suggested she change her name.) For four years during the early 1950s, Francis appeared on George Scheck's weekly "Star Time" television show and toured the borscht circuit in the Catskills during the summers. It was a difficult period for the young teenager, who felt out of place with the other more sophisticated girls in the "Star Time" show and began to overeat out of loneliness. "I never mixed socially with these other kids," she later recalled. "I just sat around by myself and ate." Through Scheck, Francis met and fell in love with Bobby Darin, a rising young singer whom her father did not like. George Franconero maneuvered his daughter out of the relationship and pressured Scheck to stop managing the singer. Though she was separated from Darin, he remained the one true romance of her life. Her devotion endured through his two marriages and his untimely death from heart disease in 1973.
When "Star Time" ended, Scheck became Francis' manager, and in 1955, after she had been rejected by several labels and had spent years making demos for music publishers, he negotiated a contract for her with MGM Records. Following another 18 months of flops, Francis recorded an uptempo version of one of her father's favorite tunes, "Who's Sorry Now?" Released in November 1957, the record went nowhere until it was plugged by Dick Clark on his "American Bandstand" television show in January 1958. Within six months, it had sold a million copies and kicked Francis' career into high gear.
Over the next five years, she had 25 records in the top 100, including "Stupid Cupid" (1958), "My Happiness" (1959), "Lipstick on Your Collar" (1959), "Mama" (1960). and "Vacation" (1962), which she co-wrote. She also made four films, including Where The Boys Are, appeared as a guest on most of the popular television variety programs (including a bittersweet reunion with Bobby Darin on "The Ed Sullivan Show"), and starred on her own TV special. As her record sales increased, she was booked at Carnegie Hall and began concert tours around the world. Francis won a variety of awards, including Billboard's Most Programmed Vocalist of the Year and Cashbox magazine's Best Female Singer of the Year. In 1960, she became the first female singer to have two consecutive singles on the charts, "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" and "Everybody's Somebody's Fool." Francis also gained international stature by recording a number of singles and albums in foreign languages. In a clever merchandizing scheme, each
of the multilingual albums featured a photograph of the singer on the album cover, dressed in appropriate native garb.
With the emergence of the Beatles in 1964, Francis had fewer hit records, although she continued to perform for several years at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. In 1967, she underwent cosmetic nasal surgery that left her unable to sing in air-conditioned facilities and further limited her bookings. After two failed marriages and several unsuccessful attempts to jump-start her career, Francis appeared to be on the comeback trail when tragedy struck again. On November 7, 1974, after a performance at the Westbury (Long Island) Music Fair, she returned to her motel room, where she was held at knife point for two-and-a-half hours and beaten and raped. Her attacker was never found, and Francis, who was thoroughly traumatized by the ordeal, was eventually awarded $2.5 million dollars in damages from the Howard Johnson's motel chain. In the ensuing years, she underwent frequent psychiatric treatment and additional nasal surgery which caused her to lose her voice from 1977 to 1981. "It's a sad admission," she wrote later, "but gone with my voice was my already badly damaged self-es-teem. Even though after the rape I was unable to face the public, I always knew in my heart that someday when I put my life back together again, singing was always an option for me—the only option really."
In 1981, Francis' 40-year-old-brother George, a former law partner of New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne, was gunned down in front of his home, the result of his cooperation in a federal investigation of mob infiltration into the state's banking industry. Claiming that the incident was "a turning point," she regained her voice and wrote her autobiography Who's Sorry Now? (1984). In 1985, she undertook an elaborate two-performance concert in Los Angeles and also announced that she was going to record again. However, she continued to be plagued with emotional problems, which led to four years in and out of mental institutions. In 1989, she finally resumed her career with an engagement at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, followed by a successful run at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Divorced from her third husband, Joseph Garzilli, and the mother of a grown adopted son, Joey, she appeared to be emerging into the spotlight again. In 1996, she made a triumphant return to the Westbury Music Fair and also signed a recording contract with Click, the new label started by her longtime friend Dick Clark.
Clarke, Donald, ed. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. NY: Viking, 1989.
Francis, Connie. Who's Sorry Now?. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1984.
Moritz, Charles, ed. Current Biography 1962. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1962.
Parish, James Robert, and Michael R. Pitts. Hollywood Songsters. NY: Garland, 1991.
Romanowski, Patricia, and Holly George-Warren. The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. NY: Fireside, 1983.
Scott, Walter. "Personality Parade," in Parade Magazine. September 1, 1996, p. 2.
Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts